It’s coming up to flu season again, so I thought I’d take a look at the #1 thing that you should teach your children to do to stay healthy. Very little else has the same effect on staying healthy as hand hygiene. Although it is impossible to keep your hands totally germ-free, washing your hands frequently throughout the day, especially after being in contact with people who are sick and/or surfaces that are frequently touched by others (e.g. handrails, doorknobs, computer keyboards, phones, etc.), is a good start.
Soap and water is preferable, especially if hands have dirt on them, but alcohol-based (at least 60%) sanitizer can be used when soap and water are not readily available. Many classrooms and public venues now seem to have sanitizer available, but I always carry a little one around with me, just in case. Teach your children to keep their hands away from her face (in particular, their eyes, nose and mouth), as that’s the primary way that germs enter the body. Also, get them into the habit of washing their hands as soon as they get home from anywhere, and before they handle food or surfaces where food is prepared or eaten (e.g. countertops, dishes, etc.). I am also particularly diligent about making sure my daughter washes her hands any time she touches money (that stuff is filthy!).
Everybody thinks that they know how to wash their hands, and kids are no exception. However, I imagine that we’d find that the majority of us are not doing a very good job. Teach kids to wash for the time it takes them to sing the Happy Birthday song twice, and make sure they wash all their hand surfaces, including under their nails and in-between their fingers (this was something that I rarely thought of doing, prior to looking into this topic).
For all the do’s and don’ts of hand-washing, check out this article by the Mayo Clinic.
Teach your children to practice good hand hygiene and, chances are, your whole family will be healthier!